It seems obvious that TV isn't real until you start to believe that you could have a life like that if you only tried harder. Sometime in the last decade the character Rachel on "Friends" had a baby. All her friends were gathered around her and there was much love and rejoicing. There were, of course, the required jokes about the pain and the cute discussions about names (she eventually stole the name "Emma" from Monica), but overall, Rachel had a great pregnancy and birth. And I believed it. Even though I knew that TV relationships and TV sex weren't real life, I somehow didn't apply that to pregnancy and motherhood. I actually bought what they were selling.
The catch, of course, was that Rachel wasn't pregnant. Jennifer Aniston wasn't pregnant. Nobody on the show was having a baby and they certainly weren't taking that baby home for a few weeks of hell at the hands of a newborn. So when my own precious daughter came into the world I was totally shocked. I had no idea that babies were so HARD. I was beyond tired (and I actually ran a marathon in the same year she was born) and I couldn't imagine ever being able to do anything fun again.
That part is over now, but I still fall victim to what TV is telling me. That Electrolux commercial with Kelly Ripa (see it from YouTube below) doesn't just make me want a new refrigerator--it also makes me feel like I should be trying harder. I'd NEVER be able to go to my fabulous job, simultaneously host a slumber party for the kids and a cocktail party for the grownups, and wear heels at the same time. How does she DO it?
Then I remember that she only does it for the 30 seconds of the commercial--I bet in the morning, before Regis comes over for their organic breakfast feast and before they hop into the town car that chauffeurs them to work, she has frizzy hair and nasty kid germs on her, too. She's not amazing because she does the impossible--Kelly, and every other mom out there, is amazing because she puts her heart into her life. TV can't ever compete with that.